Happiness…is a two part equation, achieved when we find the right balance of meaning and pleasure, and when we are engaged in an activity that has both present and future benefit. These are the pursuits that both adsorb us and require us to contribute to the world beyond ourselves….

[Happiness is] the ultimate currency in life – more than wealth, achievements, or material possessions….

Tal Ben-Shahar as paraphrased in Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons

When I feel happy, this is where I am. Meaning & pleasure. Present & future. Pursuits that absorb & require me…to the world beyond myself.
All of this. 

This is how I’ll be measuring my wealth.
Here’s to hoping I find myself surrounded by the truly rich. May we all be fully absorbed and required in some bit of the world, beyond ourselves.


2019 My Word for the Year

For the past several years, I’ve selected a word that I use as a theme, or beacon for the coming year. When I started, I was attracted to words like “sparkle” and “epic”, but now I’m more drawn to words that capture something about how I’d like to feel in the coming year. A word that resonates deeply with a part of my brain that I barely understand.

For 2019 my word is “lightness” and my particular definition of the word is something like:

Lightness: (noun)

  1. the state or quality of being light in weight.
  2. the quality of being agile, nimble, or graceful.
  3. lack of pressure or burdensomeness.
  4. lack of seriousness; levity in actions, thoughts, or speech.
  5. gaiety of manner, speech, style, etc.; cheerfulness.

I think about this in terms of what I’d like more of and what I’d like to share with others. Thinking about more lightness is calming.

As I move through 2019, I’ll encounter the usual number of decision points, tough choices, and moments where I want to do everything at once (or nothing at all). As many times as possible, I hope to use lightness as a touch point. “Will this bring my lightness?” “Will this add lightness?” “Will I feel lightness?”

I’ve imperfected this habit over the years. If experience is a great predictor, I’ll forget my word for weeks at a times. I’ll surely choose clutter and chaos from time to time. But sometimes my word will be ready and present and will be quite perfect.

51 years, 51 miles, and so many teachers

Jason and I have a birthday tradition.  We ride bikes together.  1 mile for each revolution around the sun.

And while we ride, we share milestones and memories from the year that we’ve just completed (when we remember).

On my 51 mile birthday ride, I realized how each of my earliest years were distinguished by my teachers.

Kindergarten: Mrs Livingston, we played “Giants & Fairies” to her piano playing (we had a piano in our classroom)
1st grade: Mrs. Frazer, we practiced counting to 100, as a class, standing up. (always a long 9 before the next 10s group)
2nd grade: Ms. Donovan, she had red hair and was so nice. and then we moved and I had Mrs. Ross… Her first name was Alice, we listened to Alice’s Restaurant a lot. She loved birds and each of us cut balsa wood airplanes with exacto knives (7 years old!)
3rd grade: Mrs. Barger, she loved teaching us Spanish, called me Alejandra, and drove 2 of us to the store to pick out candy for our class piñata
4th grade: Mr Shephard-Blue, he taught us Russian, played the piano in class, and introduced us to Shakespeare. I was Dromio in The Comedy of Errors (I wore pantyhose on my head to look bald, so embarrasing!)
5th & 6th grade: Mrs. Rotondi, I adored Mrs. Rotondi, she was so smart and so kind. My paper mache grand canyon was a terrible mess.

And I remembered all of my subject teachers through junior high and high school. (too many to list here) And with each of them, specific classes and lessons come rushing back into my consciousness. I thought about how amazing it was that these teachers became my reference for specific points in time and really for how I understood my own experience.

Logging on to my computer this morning, I saw the Happy Teacher Appreciation week google doodle.

Decades later I can recall so many lessons and fine details from grade school schedules.  If you’re a teacher, thank you. You make an indelible impression on the lives you touch. Perhaps not every lesson is remembered by every student, but you live on forever in some of us.